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While separated, student choirs find a ‘Smart’ way to keep making music – Yakima Herald

Choir is traditionally a very interactive class. So choir teachers have had to be creative to make the most out of remote learning.

“I would say that every single day in this new environment is an improvisation,” said West Valley High School’s choir and band director, Jeremy Freisz. “There are lots of times that I have a game plan when we start and it’s not working. It’s so much harder to read the class now. You have to improvise in all moments, and do the best you can.”

West Valley’s three choirs — chamber, treble and concert — have a combined enrollment of around 120 students. All three choirs have had to make changes, as they are unable to sing together. However, they still meet weekly and work on learning new music.

To learn music while online, the choirs use a computer program called Smart Music. This program allows students to learn music on their own and receive feedback. Every week, students are given new songs to learn on Smart Music. For each tune, students are able to practice singing along with the accompaniment in order to learn their parts.

Once they are done practicing, they record themselves singing with accompaniment. The program then tells them what they are doing correctly and what they need to work on.

Smart Music has become an important addition to the program and could end up being so even after schools reopen.

“It’s given me a lot more free time, but it’s been a lot more on me to learn,” said Freisz. “But it’s been refreshing, after 22 years of teaching. To get to do it a new way has been kind of cool.”

Remote learning has revolutionized school choir. Although students miss being able to sing with their classmates, it has served as a great new learning experience.

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